My third day in China was very busy. We visited the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and Kunming Lake. Let me see, so far I have been frisked by a security guard in Vancouver, saw 2 people being whisked away in the Beijing airport to awaiting medical tents and medical personnel, got lost in the Beijing airport, was contacted by CNN for an interview, conquered my fear of flying and climbed the Great Wall of China, what a frigging adventure!!!
Our first stop was the gardens surrounding The Temple Of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven was constructed from 1406 to 1420 and visited annually by Emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for good harvests. Music and activities were everywhere.
I love traditional Chinese music, love the tones and shapes of their instruments, I recorded some musical shorts on video and posted it at the end of this post.
Along with the music there was Chinese Shuttlecock,
and Tai Chi going on.
One of my goals, besides viewing the eclipse, climbing the Great wall, oh yeah and seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors was to get me and a friend fake Rolex Watches, as well as pick me up a "I Climbed The Great Wall" t shirt, well I got my shirt the day before and the Rolex watches that day and had my first experience with the local street vendors, they are everywhere and there are some good deals to be had if you know how to barter.
Since you can't actually go inside the Temple I leaned over the railing to get a shot of the beautiful ceiling work.
After the temple it was off to Tiananmen Square, the largest urban square in the world.
I gotta say our tour guide was very knowledgeable, a walking wikipedia on the history of Beijing, mention anything he always had a answer that usually went on and on and on so much so my brain started to hurt with way too much information,Temple this, Dynasty that, but mention..."Tank Man"..................................................................................................................................
......................................................................ribbit............................................................., silence fell, now from what I've been told, there have been major advancements in the personal freedoms and choices of the Chinese peoples over the last several years but there is still one major topic or taboo that no one is allowed to talk about and that is the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Our tour guide either skirted or changed the subject every time I brought it up, there is no information on the subject over there, for some strange reason I thought there would be an X marking the spot or some kind of monument, seems the government is trying to either delete or re-write that part of their history. When I asked "can you at least point to the approximate area where it happened?" he hesitated then slowly pointed straight ahead down by the trees and and lamp posts on the image below. The avenue it occurred on, and you can see cars in the image below traveling on it is called Chang'an, it runs between Tiananmen Square and the entrance to the Forbidden City. Even today Freight trucks are not allowed to use the road and no commercial advertising is allowed within 100 metres of the street.
The government blocked twitter, blogger and even hotmail due to the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, control the information flow, control the people.
That night I was watching the BBC news in my hotel room, they were reporting on a group of teenage students that were just quarantined at the Beijing Hospital, the reporter was saying the hospital was taking good care of them and that they were all having a great time, as he was reporting the camera was zooming in on the group about 30 or so yards away from the camera, behind a shoulder length chain link fence they were waving and smiling away to the reporters......., just kind of seemed a little staged, maybe not, maybe they were having a great time....behind the chain link fence.
This whole H1N1 thing brings up another question, the "F" word, what do the locals do if they feel a fever coming on? Do they sweat it out in hopes it's nothing too serious or do they pack their bags and expect to be away for a couple weeks? I asked the guide about this as well, he just laughed and said no problem, stay at home til better. The person sitting next to me on the plane was heading to Beijing from Vancouver to visit his family. I asked him how he felt about the virus and the quarantine, he said, China was a big place , lots of people and the government had to be careful.... that was it, then he went back to playing video games, he brought his laptop and was playing some cool space shooting game, and was actually very good, I dropped some hints about taking a turn, I even fixed his adapter for him so he could run it off the plane's electricity and said things like "cool game", and "how many lives do you have left", "I have a PS3" but he didn't take the hints, so I went back to watching "The Man From Planet X".
From Tiananmen square we entered The Forbidden City, 980 buildings and 8,700 rooms.
The Forbidden City was the imperial palace to the Ming and Qing dynasties, was built between 1406 and 1420 and was called forbidden because no one was allowed to enter or leave without the Emperor's permission. Such a huge place with magnificent buildings, again we did a lot of walking around, they kept it very clean, as we were waiting the hour it took for our guide to get through the lines to get tickets I got a picture of a cleaner and his cool witch type broom.
Kunming lake and the Summer Palace were our last stops that day. Once a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, (Qing Dynasty) it is now a beautiful resort and lake for all to enjoy.
We also took a boat ride across the lake.
and saw some kites.
I'll leave you now with a video of some musical shorts, first a musical selection from the Tang Dynasty show I saw in Xian, then a quick change mask artist, some music from the park, a short of a singer from our Beijing hotel lobby and to end it off an actor from a play I saw, "The Legend Of Kung Fu" hitting a fish drum, fish never close their eyes, well they can't, therefore they are a symbol to monks to remain ever vigilant like them, next stop the Terracotta Warriors.